Internet vote on the card for next state poll

NSW voters could cast a ballot at the next state election without leaving home under proposed changes that would alleviate the Saturday rush for polling booths.
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A joint parliamentary inquiry into electoral matters said the so-called iVote system, which allows electors to vote using the internet, should be introduced for all council and state elections.

It called for the measure in a draft report obtained by Fairfax Media, saying it would help boost voter turnout. The report is due to be tabled in Parliament on Thursday.

However, voting experts say the system is open to abuse by hackers and should be used with caution.

The iVote system was introduced at the 2011 NSW state election for people who were vision-impaired, had reading difficulties or other disabilities. It was also open to those who live more than 20 kilometres from a polling place or would be interstate or overseas on polling day.

The inquiry’s chairman Liberal MP Gareth Ward said the measure, if made available to all voters, would be an Australian first.

“When you live in an era with new technology you’ve got to take advantage of it,” he said.

“There are still people not showing up on polling day … I passionately believe people fought and died for the right to vote and that people should, regardless of their view, cast a formal ballot. We need to make it as easy as possible.”

The Nationals have previously pushed for the expansion of internet voting to assist regional residents.

The Local Government Acts Taskforce says electronic voting could cut costs and “improve voter convenience and accessibility”.

But University of Sydney constitutional law expert Anne Twomey said electronic voting systems could be infiltrated by hackers. She said that, aside from the recent lost votes at the Western Australian senate election, physical ballots were “pretty secure and it’s impossible for someone with one computer to destroy the whole thing”.

ABC election analyst Antony Green said the security of electronic voting remained an “unanswered question”.

The NSW Electoral Commission says iVote’s security and privacy “is as good as or better than the other methods of casting a vote”.

It employs measures such as external expert scrutiny, sophisticated encryption and parallel systems in different locations so iVote can continue in the case of power or equipment failures or hacking attacks.

Meantime, the NSW Property Council has welcomed the inquiry’s draft recommendation that businesses in the City of Sydney be forced to vote in council elections. It would mean almost 80,000 businesses, landlords, corporations and other eligible non-residents would be added to the electoral roll, potentially boosting the conservative vote at a cost to progressive Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore.

The Property Council’s executive director Glenn Byres said a standing electoral roll should be implemented for council polls, adding that the current system, in which businesses have to re-enrol for each election, “is too narrow and complex to encourage meaningful participation”.

The parliamentary committee is dominated by Coalition and Shooters Party MPs. The recommendation follows a law introduced by the O’Farrell government in 2012 which prevented state MPs from serving in local government, forcing Cr Moore to choose the lord mayoralty over the state seat of Sydney.

Her independent successor, Alex Greenwich, was comfortably elected to Parliament.

Cr Moore said “politically motivated changes” to the council’s electoral process “will be seen by voters as a cynical ploy, by the Liberal Party, to try and take control of the council after they failed to do so at the last election”.

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Lance Franklin will be a raging success for Sydney Swans in AFL, says Jude Bolton

Expert tips
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There have always been a few beat-ups in football – after all, there are more reporters covering the AFL than the Australian political scene. Which is why it is staggering the Swans have avoided the limelight for so long.

Enter Buddy Franklin.

I remember speaking to one of the senior Hawthorn players after the announcement that sent shockwaves through the industry last year about his move to the Swans. I asked “what is he actually like? Would he fit in?” I clearly remember how the player replied: “Be prepared for it. He is bigger than the game!'”

Having played alongside Tony Lockett, Paul Kelly and Australian of the Year Adam Goodes, it has surprised me that one man could attract even more interest.

But the number of times I have been asked about Buddy from anyone from “footyheads” to those who barely take a fleeting interest in the sport is incredible. They have all broached the subject – how will the No.23 fit in?

The simple answer is I reckon he is going to fit in beautifully.

This is a team chasing success. Many big-name players have re-signed – not jumped ship as many speculated. Jarrad McVeigh, Ben McGlynn, Gary Rohan, Nick Smith, Ted Richards and Josh Kennedy are all examples of people who are committed for the journey.

These players want to be successful. And Franklin will only help give them that opportunity.

When the Swans lost dismally to cross-town rivals Greater Western Sydney in round one, the focus turned to Franklin and how the Swans’ culture was supposedly fractured. The blowtorch was well and truly lit. Columnists mused that the Swans had sold their soul; that 20 years of work could be undone with a stroke of Buddy’s pen. The club’s culture had been poisoned.

These sensationalist statements were comical in some ways. They were something foreign to the footy club.

Make no mistake, this is a competitive game and to the victors go the spoils. I certainly never wanted to be gifted a game by playing in a weak side. As a player, you demand that the coaches and recruiters find the best talent via the draft or trade and develop the group internally to give you a chance of premiership glory. If that puts you at risk of losing your spot, then work harder and perform better to warrant selection.

The Swans have done an unbelievable job of recruiting players from other clubs over the years, and it is the commitment to the team ethos that makes those players all, arguably, just as valuable to the team as Franklin.

Only time will tell whether the risk versus reward pays off and that the forward line is cohesive. As a senior player, there is an expectation for him to perform and play his role like everyone else. Nothing more, nothing less.

But it is a slight on strong leaders like co-captains McVeigh, Kieren Jack and former captain Goodesy if people think issues would not be addressed if Buddy or others are not up to a certain standard. The thing with the Swans is they will support as well as criticise if it is warranted. Feedback is delivered and then followed up on.

I can only remember one time when the club came under the microscope to any similar extent, at the latter stages of Barry Hall’s time at Sydney. This was a time during which Hally’s indiscretions on the field had forced the hand of the leaders and coaches. It certainly tested many. I can remember having to sit in on meetings with media outlets because they wanted more access to the big man. He had shunned them since his treatment after the 2006 grand final, when we lost to the Eagles.

Internally, the issue of trust among the playing group was raised. Could the club put up with another incident on the field? Ultimately, he departed in 2009. In hindsight, I felt we dealt with this poorly at the time. In my opinion, we overplayed the strong-culture card and could have supported Hally to a greater extent to get him in a better frame of mind.

But that is history and it was wonderful to see “Baz” inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame at the season launch. He almost got teary in his acceptance speech after watching the highlight reel of his enormous contribution to the Swans.

Tiger Woods said “winning fixes everything” and the comforting thing about our sport is that you get the opportunity to make amends for a poor performance the following week.

This time both Collingwood and the Swans are stinging after ordinary efforts in round one – both have had to wait two weeks to play.

It’s time to end the innuendo; enough talk on all fronts. It will be on for young and old this Saturday night at ANZ Stadium or else you are 0-2. Nobody wants to go down that track.

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A biased Speaker or a bunch of sooks? Labor outrage divides the House

Prime Minister Tony Abbott bows as he votes on a procedure division to deny the opposition a no confidence motion against Madam Speaker Bronwyn Bishop. Photo: Andrew MearesLabor accuses Speaker Bishop of biasThe Pulse Live: how the debate unfolded
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For long moments, Bronwyn Bishop appeared so stone-still she might have been Lot’s wife, turned to a pillar of salt as she gazed upon the frightful city of Sodom.

Madam Speaker, immeasurably offended, her lips pursed till they all but disappeared, was being accused of bias and incompetency so gross she was beyond redemption.

For the first time since 1949, an opposition was trying to move a motion of no confidence in the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Labor’s Tony Burke, opposition manager of business, might as well consider a future emptying night carts, for his motion, a thing of fury, and his long list of gruesome complaints against Ms Bishop, foundered. His life, you’d imagine, will barely be worth living.

Worse, perhaps, he was accused of being a “sook” by the carefully coiffed Christopher Pyne, who invoked Paul Keating to inform him cheerily that opposition was a dreary life of cold cups of tea at 11 o’clock at night, and three long years of it lay ahead.

It had been coming for months, of course, as Ms Bishop cut down Mr Burke’s attempts to move points of order, as he tried to argue with Madam Speaker’s rulings, as he watched his colleagues tossed from Parliament day after day, as he was taunted by Mr Pyne, and as only this week, he had sought vainly to persuade Ms Bishop that outbreaks of laughter from the opposition benches did not constitute unparliamentary behaviour.

Mr Burke has not been an obvious favourite with Ms Bishop since the first day, back in November, she ascended the throne she had so long desired. Feigning to welcome her to the high office of Speaker, he offered that he found the moment reminiscent of the Harry Potter novel in which the evil witch Dolores Umbridge is made headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

It’s been downhill from there, reaching the basement on Thursday when Mr Burke’s colleague Mark Dreyfus QC, shadow attorney-general, found himself named by Ms Bishop and thrown out of the chamber.

His sin?

According to Labor, he had cried out, during a moment of tumult in the chamber, “Madam Speaker”.

Never since Parliament formed in 1901, Burke frothed, had anyone been named for calling out the words “Madam Speaker”. Or “Mr Speaker”, for that matter.

Shortly after failing in his attempt to move no confidence in Ms Bishop’s Speakership on the grounds of bias, for disporting herself as a mere instrument of the Liberal Party, for misinterpreting standing orders and for gross incompetency in administration of Parliament, Mr Burke launched into a scorching list of dreadfulness that, he argued, had already persuaded everyone in Australia she was not impartial.

Why, Ms Bishop had thrown 98 MPs out of her chamber, and every one of them was from the opposition – a record.

Mr Pyne presented himself as Ms Bishop’s champion, accused Mr Dreyfus of being an aggressive bully and declared that in fact, he, Pyne, held the title for being ejected from the chamber by Labor-appointed Speakers. “I’m no sook,” he declared, adding that Mr Burke, with all his complaining, had proved himself one.

Labor’s Anthony Albanese entered the fray, claiming it was sad that Ms Bishop had “chosen the low road of partisanship rather than the high road of independence that this office demands”, and if a football game threw up a score of 98-0, the home crowd would be jumping the fence.

Through it all, Ms Bishop sat scarily motionless, her eyes suggesting she was indeed witnessing Sodom in its moment of destruction.

And then it was over, and Ms Bishop was still safe on her throne, silently willing, surely, for Tony Burke to turn to a pillar of salt, and to stay that way.

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Is it time to back up your life into the cloud?

Cloud Computing . Illustration Karl Hilzinger. Photo: Karl HilzingerAs cloud storage becomes all but free, is it time to rethink your online back-up regime?These days most people have turned to the cloud as an off-site back-up solution, perhaps combined with a home Network Attached Storage drive tucked away in their study. If you set up your back-up regime quite a few years ago, like I did, you might have been frugal with what you sent to the cloud – due to the cost of online storage and bandwidth limitations. Back-up tends to be set and forget, but it’s worth revisiting your back-up plan every now and then.These days online storage is as good as free unless you demand terabytes. If you’ve held off on uploading big files such as home movies and disc images then it might be time to reconsider, but this could mean changing your cloud storage service. Starting from scratch is a major pain, so it’s not a decision you should make lightly. Of course as cloud storage has become cheaper your home upload speeds haven’t necessarily become faster, so you’ll need to decide how practical it is to upload massive files.I’ve got a lot of data tucked away in Amazon Web Services via Jungle Disk, where I pay about 12 cents per gigabyte per month. A few years ago it was a pretty cost-effective way to store large amounts of data in the cloud, especially when you’re backing up from multiple computers. Jungle Disk’s desktop client offers a lot more flexibility when it comes to backing up and syncing your data than you will get from cloud sync services such as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and Dropbox.Of course these days Google Drive offers 1 terabyte for $9.99 per month – so that’s 1 cent per gigabyte. That makes it a tempting place to dump the photos and videos which are taking up the bulk of my storage space in Amazon Web Services. I’m already paying AWS more than $10 per month but I’m using a lot less than 1TB. The cost creeps up every time I dump photos from my camera. I’d like to bring that cost down and right now Google looks a lot more attractive than its peers – for $10 per month you’ll only get 100GB from Dropbox, while OneDrive’s cheapest paid plan is $25 per month for 50GB.Like I said, I like Jungle Disk’s advanced data management features and I’m likely to stick with it for backing up and syncing small files which change regularly, such as office documents. I don’t like the idea of fragmenting my data across multiple cloud services, but I also don’t like the idea of spending more than I have to. Using Jungle Disk to store all my photos is slowly getting more and more expensive.Amazon Web Services is cutting data prices, but we haven’t seen that flow through to consumer-grade services such as Jungle Disk. Amazon’s archive-grade Glacier service can match the price of Google Drive at 1 cent per gigabyte per month, but it doesn’t offer instantaneous access to your files. You might need to wait a few hours to retrieve your data, but I guess this doesn’t matter if you’re only using it to archive precious files such as family photos. Glacier support isn’t built into Jungle Disk, but it is built into alternatives such as CrashPlan.There are plenty of other cloud storage services to consider, from Box, Crashplan and SugarSync to Cubby, Mozy and Carbonite. If you’re trying them out, my advice is to start with a small data set and test out the desktop software before you take the plunge. I need to take another look at the Google Drive desktop client to see if I’m happy with it (the fact you need to move files into the desktop Google folder is a pain, it’s one of the key differences between back-up and sync services, but there are workarounds). You’ll also need to crunch the numbers to see which service is most economical for your storage requirements.What’s your cloud back-up system? Do you upload absolutely everything? Which cloud solution serves you best?
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Shute Shield kicks off as divided loyalties loom

Saturday’s derby between arch enemies Eastern Suburbs and Randwick to kick-start the Shute Shield club competition should have an added dose of spite after several players from each side switched clubs to join their old rivals in the off-season.
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And while the contest will be focused on accruing match points and, ultimately, victory in the round-one game at Easts’ home ground Woollahra Oval, those players who have traded jerseys can expect a few square-ups coming their way from their former teammates.

The last thing on any players’ minds will be that, come August, some of them will no longer be the long-time foes they are today, but new-found friends as teammates for the NSW Country franchise playing in the inaugural National Rugby Championship.

And as new Easts captain and winger Anton LaVin, whose loyalty to the club dates back 22 years, showed when asked about starting this season playing Randwick, there will be no shortage of confidence on the field.

“I want to win and I think we will win. We want to improve on last season and there’s no better team to start against than Randwick,” LaVin said.

“We thrive off the fact it’s a derby, it makes us want to run faster and hit harder. It will be a physical game for sure.”

With his longevity at Easts, LaVin is a veritable rock for the side that will have two former Randwick players in their starting side in openside breakaway Seilala Lam, who captained the Galloping Greens last year, and inside-centre Keith Mesema.

However, Randwick have also welcomed some former Easts players to the Coogee club this year, including hooker Alex Walker and ball-running outside-centre Kuki Ma’afu – both will start in Saturday’s game.

Furthermore, while LaVin’s confidence probably also reflects that of his Easts teammates, Randwick will also go into the game with boosted confidence after their pre-season trial win against last year’s finalist, Eastwood, and a strong showing against Norths.

While the Eastern Suburbs-Randwick clash is the match of the day – to be televised on ABC TV – round one boasts several other exciting clashes.

The defending Shute Shield champions, Sydney University, will take on Penrith at Nepean Rugby Park hot off winning their fourth Australian Club Championship by beating the East Brisbane Tigers in Brisbane 19-14.

However, this Saturday the Students, who have won eight Shute Shield titles in the past nine years, will not downplay the Emus. who have had a strong pre-season in trial games, including an upset win against the Students last weekend.

“We’ve got a young side this time around after some of our more experienced players retired, I think the average age is 23,” University captain and blindside Tom Boidin said.

“Our young players have a point to prove and will definitely not be underestimating Penrith.”

In other games, Eastwood play North Sydney at T.G. Millner Field, Parramatta take on Gordon at Merrylands RSL Rugby Park, Southern Districts face Manly at Forshaw Rugby Park, and Warringah play West Habour at Pittwatwer.

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